Billy Joel has essentially been in semi-retirement for the past three years or so, but he wanted Rolling Stone to know that he’s not retiring.
That said, he’s not really sure he’s going to play any more shows after two festival dates next month, and he probably won’t put out any more albums, but he’s not really retired, either.
What we do know is he’s playing the STONE Music Festival in Sydney, Australia on April 21, and then he’ll appear at the NOLA Jazz Festival on April 27. He also appeared at the 12-12-12 event last year to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Joel told the magazine that he wants to use these shows as test gigs to see how he feels about performing now, saying that if they go well he’ll “probably end up booking some more gigs. I don’t know if I’ll go on an extended tour like Bruce Springsteen, hammering away for two years, though.”
He also spoke about his old touring partner Elton John, and said he would be open to touring with him again. Back in 2011, John told Rolling Stone that he was frustrated of touring with Joel, particularly because of cancellations due to, John said, Joel’s alcoholism. Joel said he hasn’t heard from Elton since.
Joel said that if he does, he might begin playing entire albums, as he’s tired of playing what he calls a “greatest hits set.”
“It would give me a chance to do songs we haven’t played… We’d do one album and then play some obscurities. I enjoy playing those more than I enjoy playing the hits.”
Joel hasn’t release a pop album since 1993’s River of Dreams, and says that playing more obscure songs can take the place of writing new tracks.
“I don’t have any new material,” he said. “But I realized that if I play older material that has never been heard before, like an album track or an obscure song, that’s almost the same as doing a new song. I just don’t want to be an oldies hack where I’m just playing songs everybody is familiar with.”